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Labonte excited about new crew chief
This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team head to the two-mile Michigan International Speedway for Sunday’s 3M Performance 400. Located in Brooklyn, Michigan, the speedway features a D-shaped oval.

Labonte remains in the 20th position in NASCAR Nextel Cup championship points heading into this weekend.  The team will be led by new crew chief Doug Randolph this weekend.  Randolph joined Petty Enterprises on Tuesday of this week.

Labonte will be making his 31st start at Michigan this weekend. He has visited victory lane three times at Michigan, the last of which was in 1999. Labonte has four poles at the track and has been very successful there in the past including 15 top 10’s and nine top five’s in his 30 previous starts. His average start at Michigan is 12.6 and average finish is 13.7.

Comments from Labonte heading into this weekend’s race at Michigan:

“I think Doug (Randolph) will be a very good addition for us.  We didn’t do well here in June, but I think Doug can help us.  I know he’s ready to get back to the track, and I’m ready to head back and improve.  He’s already brought in some different ideas and maybe some different ways to do things.  We’re not doing anything drastic, but Doug has some ideas about different setups that we hope will make us get better, sooner.

“It’s going to take a few weeks to get to know each other and see how we work together.  It’s something we’re both looking forward too.  We’ve talked a little, and it’s just something new for our team.  There are a lot of ideas that Doug has from his experience.  He has to match that with what I like and what the guys on the team like.  It’s going to be a process, but we think it will move us forward.

“We haven’t had the finishes that we’ve wanted. Robbie (Loomis), Richard, Kyle and everyone at the shop want to get better.  This sport is always changing and there are always new challenges.  You get a guy like Doug to come in, and maybe he can add something that you never thought of.  Maybe he can point us in a different direction we never thought about.  He’s stepped up already in a short time and we’re heading to Michigan to see how it works. 

“Any change is tough. It’s something we did to take that next step.  I think Doug has goals from now to the end of the year.  He’s going to go out there and try to reach them.  You just keep evolving and going until you win races and go after a championship.  That is what everyone is in it for.

“August is a pretty busy month and there are a lot of races before the end of the season.  We’re going to use that time to create chemistry.  Last year we made a change and finished the season with some great runs.  We’re trying to do that a little earlier this year.  Doug is going to be a big part of that.  Michigan will be a start and I’m pretty excited about it.”

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